Money is tight in the Levine household these days, so when we meet friends for dinner we don't go to expensive restaurants. In fact, we look for restaurants where we can both eat for $35 or less. The night before last we ended up at Saravanaas, a relatively new South Indian restaurant in Manhattan's Little India. Saravanaas is a branch of Saravana Bhavan, a 40 location chain based in Chennai in South India. I don't know about the other 39 locations, but this branch turned out to be a pretty enough, comfortable to talk in, restaurant that serves terrific South Indian vegetarian food. The New York Times' Peter Meehan had reviewed the restaurant seven months ago, so we just followed his instructions about what to order. Sambar Vada were lentil-flour doughnuts plopped into a lentil-based gravy studded with fresh cilantro and onions. Slightly weird but very tasty. Channa Batura was a supersized poori-like bread that came with a bowl of delicious and complex chickpea curry. Why should I describe the food when Meehan has already done so beautifully. Just read his review and follow his lead. Suffice to say you will eat very well and cheaply at Saravanaas.
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